Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

I'm not sure I know how to use this site yet, but wanted to announce the birth of two new babies yesterday. One is larger than the other and seems to be the only one nursing the last two times I've been out there. Brownie (the smaller one) has nursed at least a couple of times, but he is smaller and I don't know if I should be worried. I just gave them both some NutraDrench.
I'm also hoping they're warm enough. We have a straw bale on either side of their little area inside a horse stall in a horse barn, a kerosene heater and a heat lamp, with lots of straw. They are sticking pretty close to the heater.
These are first babies for both the doe and for me.
Thanks for any additional advice.
Susan O'Neill

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Congratulations! Even after eight years, I still get excited when we have babies!

They shouldn't have any trouble staying warm, as long as they have plenty of straw. In this weather (10 to 30 degrees), we'd probably have a heat lamp on the kids for a couple days, but it works just as well to give them a little space to crawl into, like a little dog house or dog crate. We've used scrap lumber to make little huts for them too. Heat lamps are the #1 cause of barn fires, so I try not to use them any more than necessary, since we did almost have a barn fire once. My daughter walked in when it was still small enough to be put out with a bucket of water. Kids quickly learn where the warmest spot is, and that's where they'll stay, whether it's under a heat lamp or in a dog crate. If you put a little dog crate in there, take the door off, because I've found it impossible to do anything to make the door stay open, and you don't normally want the babies to be locked away from mom. Once they get a couple weeks old, you can put them in a little dog crate for a few hours or overnight, if you want to milk mom.

It's not unusual to have one kid smaller than the others. Usually it's not anything to worry about. The smaller one usually catches up by about a month of age. Kids nurse very frequently and for short periods of time -- like 15 seconds every 10-20 minutes, so unless you've been spending a lot of time out there, it's likely that you've just missed the nursing. I don't think a kid could survive for 24 hours without nursing.

Sounds like everyone is doing great, including you! My first babies don't arrive until next week, and I can hardly wait! Don't hesitate to ask if you have more questions or if we're not clear on suggestions.
Congrats! Now you just need to post some pictures.

Be very careful with the heater around straw - fires can start very quickly and without contact! If he is managing to find the teat on his own then I wouldn't be to worried. I had one last year that I had to help stand to nurse the first 24 hrs, but after that he did fine and eventually caught up in size.
Thanks for the advice. The littler brown one (the female, as it turns out) is getting caught up. When we went out there this afternoon, the larger one (the male) was nursing on one teat and when the little girl went to start on the other one, the white one moved over to that one. We moved big brother out of the way, and made sure the girl got fed. After a couple times like this, she got alot sturdier on her feet, and the last time I checked on them, each one had its own teat, drinking up a storm. I also gave them both some NutraDrench, and they seem to be much stronger already.
The mom is VERY interested in eating. I think she would eat grain 24/7, if we gave it to her. Which we don't. But she'll walk right over them to come towards me if I have food for her. I guess she needs her strength.
They all seem to be doing pretty well, though.
Thanks for everything. This can be a little daunting at first.
I think most goats would eat grain 24/7 if you let them. They're like kids in a candy store.

Glad to hear everyone is doing well. Would love to see photos, if you get a chance!

Susan O'Neill said:
Thanks for the advice. The littler brown one (the female, as it turns out) is getting caught up. When we went out there this afternoon, the larger one (the male) was nursing on one teat and when the little girl went to start on the other one, the white one moved over to that one. We moved big brother out of the way, and made sure the girl got fed. After a couple times like this, she got alot sturdier on her feet, and the last time I checked on them, each one had its own teat, drinking up a storm. I also gave them both some NutraDrench, and they seem to be much stronger already.
The mom is VERY interested in eating. I think she would eat grain 24/7, if we gave it to her. Which we don't. But she'll walk right over them to come towards me if I have food for her. I guess she needs her strength.
They all seem to be doing pretty well, though.
Thanks for everything. This can be a little daunting at first.
Congratulations on your new babies! Its been a while since I have had little 'kids'. We have raised French Alpine goats for 13 years, although we have not bred for the last 5 years. I now have two Nigerians, one doe and one buckling. The doe is bred and should kid the end of April. I have found that kids will keep each other warm snuggling together. Right now here in Ohio we have nearly 2 ft of snow and getting more. It has been around 5 - 10 degrees at night and I also use a heat lamp, it is secured with screws to make it more secure. The kerosene heater sounds a little scary though. The most important thing is NEVER allow any drafts. Goats can take the cold but they cannot take a draft. A thick bed of straw will also help keep them warm, it holds in heat so much better than a bed of hay. So the straw you mentioned should work great on the sides as long as you have a thick bed. I lined my goats little pen with blue board then covered it with 1/4 in. plywood, (so they did not eat the blue board). This gave them a draft free box inside their pen. About your little one not eating much, the big one will surely push his weight around and you will have to try to give the kid and doe some one on one time if you are not bottle feeding. I never tried Nutra Drench.
I would milk my does then bottle feed the kids so I would have friendly goats and when they got bigger, they were easy to get on the milk stand. I also am learning to use this site and look forward to hearing from you again.
Holy Motherhood!
I went out to the barn yesterday morning, and I heard the little goats crying - except the sounds were coming from the wrong pen. As I walked down to where the racket was coming from, my mind was racing. How did they get down there??
Well, my other doe, who I thought wasn't that big and so probably had another month - she had delivered two of her own!
Things are settled down today, but what a day yesterday was! I now have two mothers on opposite sides of the stall. The ones born on Saturday are already jumping around and acting goofy. The larger one born yesterday seems OK, but I've been babying the smaller one, who had to be held up and led to the nipple. Once he's there, he drinks like crazy, and he seemed steadier on his feet last night.
I was supposed to go into work yesterday afternoon, but luckily I'm set up to work at home, too, so I alternated between doing interviews (I'm a reporter) and checking on the latest pair.
The two does fight over any food I put down; they're really acting like babies, and the little one born Saturday wanders over occasionally to see what the new mama's milk is like. I don't really want her to waste her milk, because I feel like the newest, littlest one really needs it.
How does that happen, that the one kid is about twice the size as the other?
My husband just went out on his way to work, and helped the little one over to the teat. Once again, drank a ton. It's a good thing I work at home on Tuesdays!
Congratulations, again! I've heard all sorts of theories about why kids are different sizes. I don't think anyone knows for sure. And it's possible there are different reasons for different kids. The thing that makes the most sense is just that the attachment to the placenta isn't as good for one kid, so they get less nutrients and calories. Along the same lines, maybe the cord is kinked, not allowing more nutrients to the kid. I have heard some people argue that kids are conceived at different times, but those of us who hand breed know that all of our kids are conceived at the same time, and we usually have a runt.

Susan O'Neill said:
Holy Motherhood!
I went out to the barn yesterday morning, and I heard the little goats crying - except the sounds were coming from the wrong pen. As I walked down to where the racket was coming from, my mind was racing. How did they get down there??
Well, my other doe, who I thought wasn't that big and so probably had another month - she had delivered two of her own!
Things are settled down today, but what a day yesterday was! I now have two mothers on opposite sides of the stall. The ones born on Saturday are already jumping around and acting goofy. The larger one born yesterday seems OK, but I've been babying the smaller one, who had to be held up and led to the nipple. Once he's there, he drinks like crazy, and he seemed steadier on his feet last night.
I was supposed to go into work yesterday afternoon, but luckily I'm set up to work at home, too, so I alternated between doing interviews (I'm a reporter) and checking on the latest pair.
The two does fight over any food I put down; they're really acting like babies, and the little one born Saturday wanders over occasionally to see what the new mama's milk is like. I don't really want her to waste her milk, because I feel like the newest, littlest one really needs it.
How does that happen, that the one kid is about twice the size as the other?
My husband just went out on his way to work, and helped the little one over to the teat. Once again, drank a ton. It's a good thing I work at home on Tuesdays!
I'm separating the two families today. Last night, my husband and I found wounds on the two white babies - one from each litter. I don't know exactly what they are, but they are both in the exact same spot, near the right front leg, and on one, the skin is punctured (or something) down to the bone.
I had been seeing the mothers butting the babies of the other mother away, and although I didn't like it, I figured that was just their way of saving their milk for their own babies. But this looks pretty serious. I put some antibiotic cream on both, but I'm also going to have the vet come out just to check on them.
Also, one of the mothers has been walking away from her white one in the middle of him trying to nurse. He's the smallest of the four babies, and I'm worried about him. Both of the white babies seem to still move around OK, but their wounds really concern me.
Has anyone had anything like this happen to them? This is very distressing.
I have always kept the mothers and their own kids separate from other mothers, I know the mothers can be very protective of their young. Having a vet look at them is a good idea. If I would bottle feed the kids, they were kept in a separate pen with only other kids. The milking does would be in their own pen too. I hope this helps.

Susan O'Neill said:
I'm separating the two families today. Last night, my husband and I found wounds on the two white babies - one from each litter. I don't know exactly what they are, but they are both in the exact same spot, near the right front leg, and on one, the skin is punctured (or something) down to the bone.
I had been seeing the mothers butting the babies of the other mother away, and although I didn't like it, I figured that was just their way of saving their milk for their own babies. But this looks pretty serious. I put some antibiotic cream on both, but I'm also going to have the vet come out just to check on them.
Also, one of the mothers has been walking away from her white one in the middle of him trying to nurse. He's the smallest of the four babies, and I'm worried about him. Both of the white babies seem to still move around OK, but their wounds really concern me.
Has anyone had anything like this happen to them? This is very distressing.
OK, I am glad I did not know what was involved in getting the babies debudded. OH MY GOD. I am still kind of sick to my stomach. That's all I want to say about that.
A couple of questions:
1) The vet said that one of the goats had lice. Ick. Is that due to a dirty barn, or where would they come from? I'm thinking I need to treat everybody, right? He really didn't have anything for this (I found that strange), but I'm assuming I can find something at Farm & Fleet, right?
2) I haven't really let the goats out of the barn since the babies were born. Reminder, I have two mothers, with two babies each. Are the mothers likely to be going stir-crazy, and if I let them out for awhile, will they still want to come back? They cry when I leave the barn.
When will it be OK to let the babies outside? I have let them run up and down the aisle in the barn, but have not really let them outside yet. Also, when is it really warm enough to let babies out anyway?
3) How long will the mothers be nursing them? I probably need to read up on this, because I'm sure it has to do with alot of factors, such as, do I want to make goat cheese, and all that.
4) When will I or will I be able to trust the mothers around the goats that are not their own? I have actually been keeping the one goat for someone else who did not have a place to keep her, but she will be taking her and at least one of the babies home soon. I would like her to take both, but that's another story...If she only takes one (the female) and leaves the white male (the one who was badly bitten by my doe), will I need to be worried that my doe will attack him again, or does that go away when they are done nursing?
5) Will I need to worry about the other goats attacking the babies? It's the two white ones that were the ones picked on.
Well, I guess that's more than a couple of questions, but I will appreciate any and all responses. Thank you!
Susan
If you have some food-grade DE, you can put that on the babies for lice. Just be careful not to create a big dust storm with it. You can also use pour-on ivermectin, but for babies the dosage is something insanely small, like a cc. Don't expect pour-on to do anything for internal parasites in goats. It just doesn't work on them. I know I was mortified the first time my kids got lice, but it's something that just happens. We usually see it towards the end of winter -- about this time of year.

I let moms and babies together after a week or two. I've never had one injure another kid, although once I did see a mama grab a kid by the tail and toss it when it tried to nurse from her, rather than his own mama. Most does do save their milk for their own babies. I wouldn't let babies in with bucks, but I don't worry about them with other goats. They usually ignore babies.

As for outside, it's probably okay as long as they have a shelter where they can get out of the wind if they get cold.

If you only have two kids each, you can separate them overnight (start with 8 hours, then 10 hours, then 12 hours) if you want to milk the mama in the morning for your own milk. I'd also start with every two or three days. By a month, if the kids are looking good, you can separate mama and babies every night for 12 hours. When mamas have three or four, I don't start milking them until the kids are two months old, which is also when you can wean, if you want. When we're keeping does, we don't wean them. We just let them stay with mama when we don't want to milk, and we separate them when we do want the milk. The daughter doesn't need the milk at that point, but it provides us with some flexibility about milking.

I hate disbudding also, but it's safer for the humans who have to handle goats daily, and I'd worry about someone dehorning them as adults if I didn't disbud them as kids, and dehorning sometimes kills them.

Deborah

Susan O'Neill said:
OK, I am glad I did not know what was involved in getting the babies debudded. OH MY GOD. I am still kind of sick to my stomach. That's all I want to say about that.
A couple of questions: 1) The vet said that one of the goats had lice. Ick. Is that due to a dirty barn, or where would they come from? I'm thinking I need to treat everybody, right? He really didn't have anything for this (I found that strange), but I'm assuming I can find something at Farm & Fleet, right? 2) I haven't really let the goats out of the barn since the babies were born. Reminder, I have two mothers, with two babies each. Are the mothers likely to be going stir-crazy, and if I let them out for awhile, will they still want to come back? They cry when I leave the barn.
When will it be OK to let the babies outside? I have let them run up and down the aisle in the barn, but have not really let them outside yet. Also, when is it really warm enough to let babies out anyway?
3) How long will the mothers be nursing them? I probably need to read up on this, because I'm sure it has to do with alot of factors, such as, do I want to make goat cheese, and all that.
4) When will I or will I be able to trust the mothers around the goats that are not their own? I have actually been keeping the one goat for someone else who did not have a place to keep her, but she will be taking her and at least one of the babies home soon. I would like her to take both, but that's another story...If she only takes one (the female) and leaves the white male (the one who was badly bitten by my doe), will I need to be worried that my doe will attack him again, or does that go away when they are done nursing?
5) Will I need to worry about the other goats attacking the babies? It's the two white ones that were the ones picked on.
Well, I guess that's more than a couple of questions, but I will appreciate any and all responses. Thank you!
Susan
Up until this year I had a separate paddock and housing for kidding and babies - fenced so the babies couldn't get out. I've had two does and their babies share the space without any problems.

This year I have a full fledged barn, so a doe and her kids will be in a kidding stall for 2-3 days and then, if everyone is doing well and is healthy they will be allowed out into the general population.

When the kids are two weeks old, then they will start spending the night separated so that I can milk in the morning before turning them back out with their dam. Some folks wean kids at 8 weeks old, but I much prefer to leave them until they are a minimum of 12 weeks. I think it makes for healthier kids in the long run.

Some of the goat dairies that bottle feed are now extending their bottle feeding of doe kids until they are 5-6 months old. I had one doe kid I bottle fed last year and after seeing her growth I have a feeling they are doing that to get the extra growth for breeding early (at 7-8 months old) another other of those things that I don't do just because I think they will be better does over the long haul if they have a chance to mature a bit more before breeding.


Susan O'Neill said:
OK, I am glad I did not know what was involved in getting the babies debudded. OH MY GOD. I am still kind of sick to my stomach. That's all I want to say about that.
A couple of questions:
1) The vet said that one of the goats had lice. Ick. Is that due to a dirty barn, or where would they come from? I'm thinking I need to treat everybody, right? He really didn't have anything for this (I found that strange), but I'm assuming I can find something at Farm & Fleet, right?
2) I haven't really let the goats out of the barn since the babies were born. Reminder, I have two mothers, with two babies each. Are the mothers likely to be going stir-crazy, and if I let them out for awhile, will they still want to come back? They cry when I leave the barn.
When will it be OK to let the babies outside? I have let them run up and down the aisle in the barn, but have not really let them outside yet. Also, when is it really warm enough to let babies out anyway?
3) How long will the mothers be nursing them? I probably need to read up on this, because I'm sure it has to do with alot of factors, such as, do I want to make goat cheese, and all that.
4) When will I or will I be able to trust the mothers around the goats that are not their own? I have actually been keeping the one goat for someone else who did not have a place to keep her, but she will be taking her and at least one of the babies home soon. I would like her to take both, but that's another story...If she only takes one (the female) and leaves the white male (the one who was badly bitten by my doe), will I need to be worried that my doe will attack him again, or does that go away when they are done nursing?
5) Will I need to worry about the other goats attacking the babies? It's the two white ones that were the ones picked on.
Well, I guess that's more than a couple of questions, but I will appreciate any and all responses. Thank you!
Susan

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